How to Build Your Strength for Pole Dance


The thought of strength training makes many women want to run a mile in fear of developing bulky, manly muscles.

However, to improve on the pole, it is very important to include strength elements in every pole workout that you do. You’ll find that doing so will help you improve very quickly on the pole. Bonus!

The truth is, that to make serious improvements on the pole, you don’t need to be pumping iron!

In fact, doing so will increase the likelihood of becoming more muscular. If it’s the bodybuilder look you want – then go for it 🙂

Instead, most of us want to develop the toned, slender, sexy look that is synonymous with pole dancing.

To achieve this, bodyweight exercises (on and off the pole) and light resistance exercises will produce great results.. while making you stronger in your pole moves.

Build Your Strength for Pole Dance

Why is Strength Training Important?

Strength training for pole dancing is very important. When most people start, they think that they aren’t strong enough to pole dance and find it a struggle.

For the first few sessions, it is likely that you’ll go home with (or wake up to) very sore arms. As you continue in your lessons and workouts, your strength will naturally develop and increase.

In the beginning, this effect of getting stronger by simply practising the pole moves, is the reason why specific strength training is overlooked.

But… at some point we all reach a plateau. When our strength (or lack of) becomes the limiting factor in achieving more advanced pole moves. Getting “stronger by doing” is no longer enough at this point.

As soon as you move onto harder, more advanced moves, you will soon wish that you had done more strength training earlier on.

When you work on strength moves such as the Ayesha or moves like The Flag or any Deadlift, you may find it a struggle.

It can feel like you are starting to learn to pole dance all over again. You will feel like you are not strong enough and may worry that you will not be able to get these moves – you have to re-train your muscles.

Starting your strength training early on in your pole dancing workouts will help you to improve in all areas of your pole dancing – and you will be especially happy that you did, when you are working on more advanced moves.

Build Your Strength for Pole Dance

How Often Should I do Strength Training for Pole Dance?

Rule 1: Pole Comes First

While it is important to make sure you do your strength training, it should not take anything away from your actual pole dancing.

Rule 2: Little & Often

It is important that you still keep the element of fun and enjoyment when you pole dance. For this reason you only need to spend a short amount of time every workout on strength training. For example if you are working out for an hour, you should spend about 10 minutes training. While this does not seem like a lot, imagine doing press-ups or sit-ups for 10 minutes. Ouch!

Rule 3: Remember to Rest!

It is important that you do not over train your body. While it can be tempting to train every day you must give yourself at least one day off a week to recover. Giving yourself a rest allows your body to fully repair and recover from the previous training and workouts that you have done.

It’s during this rest time that your body heals and gets stronger!

Rule 4: Be Creative

If you do not have a lot of time to work out, work your strength training in with your attempts at pole moves.

For example, if you are trying to master an Air Walk, you can train accordingly for this, while trying to practise the move. Place your hands on the pole as you would, if you had climbed up the pole. Practise taking your legs off the ground, lifting them to the side, holding it for 5 secs and then putting them on the ground again. Repeat 3 times. Change your arms around and repeat again. The whole of this exercise may only take 1 minute but if you were to train like this for every move, you will find that you will quickly improve and feel stronger.

Strength Training for pole dance

What Strength Exercises Shall I Do?

The Strength Basics:

Here are some exercises for you to try as a start to your new strength regime. As a rule of thumb try 3 sets of 15-20 reps for each exercise. Some YouTube searching will help you with technique!

Arms: Bicep Curls, Tricep Dips, Chin-Ups

Chest: Press-Ups (Wide & Narrow)

Back: Rows, Lateral Pull Down

Shoulders: Shoulder Press, Lateral Raise

Core: Sit-Ups (Many Variations), Plank, Side Plank

Legs: Squats, Lunges, Step-Ups

Functional Strength for Pole Dance:

These exercises relate to the moves that you want to do. These aren’t necessarily moves that you want to do now -they can be moves that you want to master in the future – such as a deadlift. For a Deadlift you can twist your strong hand and place it high on the pole. Place your weaker hand lower on the pole. Take your legs out the side, and stand on your tip toes. From here practise lifting your feet off the ground and holding for 5 secs. Repeat 3 times and then repeat on the other side. This is a great way to prepare for when you eventually are ready to try a Deadlift.

This technique can be applied to many moves. If you look at a move you want to do, figure out the first step, whether this is lifting your feet off the ground or holding yourself up by your legs. Whatever the first move is, practise holding your body up in this way and make sure you can confidently do this on each side. You can strengthen your whole body this way as you are often working more than one muscle group at a time. This is also brilliant for those moments of frustration when you don’ t want to try that particular move again – simply work on some strength training.

What Are Your Favourite Pole Strength Workouts?

Let me know your thoughts! 🙂

Build Your Strength for Pole Dance
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Comments From the PoleFreaks Community:

  1. Dear

    love the article, i have question about strength
    i have been pole dancing for while, i’m advanced. My problem is i went out of the country almost for week for my mum’s operation and didn’t have enough rest, i wasn’t eating, stressed…so when i came back was trying to practice pole i couldn’t do anything. I’m so upset i feel so weak i keep falling i cant air invert i cant do the easy climb i cant pull my self, i cant do any simple move & my muscles hurts like 1st time??
    since i came back i dont eat my 3meals, my sleeping is not enough, wake up every hour
    i”m trying to have alot of protein shake (Fusion for pole fitness) twice in a day.
    i would like to know why ? would it take time to be like that or I’m starting from zero ? how to bring my strength back


  2. Hi,

    I took one pole dancing class at a bchelorette Party and fell in L-O-V-E!!!! Id looove to do it again, and im looking into studios in my area.
    Problem: Im ridiculosuly out of shape with little stregnth in my arms and wrists. at 200+ pounds im wondering is its even a possibility.My Question is what exactly is step 1 to get in pole dancer shape??

    1. Pole dancers come in all shapes and sizes! Don’t ever feel that you’re not thin enough to attempt pole fitness. At our studio, we all look different and we laugh and support each other. I have a big butt and fat thighs, and I sometimes think that I can climb easier than some of the thinner girls because I have more contact area on the pole, haahaha!
      Go on and try it! It’s a great way to get into shape and it is so much fun! I lost a lot of weight by working really hard to become stronger for pole fitness.

    2. Just to encourage you when I started I was weak and 198 pounds. Just from doing one pole session per week I lost 11 pounds in six weeks! Sometimes I am still too weak to do the moves I want, but I just keep trying until I get it right. We can do anything we put our mind to. 🙂

  3. I have just completed my second pole class and my arms feel like threads compared to the rest of my body. I’m not a fitness expert and don’t consider myself an athlete in anyway. I’m frustrated at how weak my arms and abs are.

  4. Great article. I always find it difficult to break up my time between practicing a routine, learning new moves, and strength training (I get singularly focused). I’ve personally noticed the “oldie but goodie” exercises are immeasurably helpful for upper body strength and don’t require a gym. For example push-ups help with back, biceps and triceps. Pull-ups of course help strengthen primarily back muscles and help with grip strength, but they also strengthen abs, biceps and triceps. However when it comes to abs or “core”, I tend to get more creative. I use furniture sliders to help me do pike-up crunches, I incorporate ankle weights into leg raises, and I recently began strengthening my hip flexors (the most neglected muscle in dance class). I noticed specifically push-ups, pull-ups, and hip exercises have helped me the most. You can crunch all day long, but if you don’t develop those hip flexors it will be difficult to invert. That’s just been my personal experience.

  5. Great article. I always find it tough to balance my strength training with practicing routines for competition. I also tend to get obsessive about my routines, and sometimes will put aside learning new moves in favor of practicing tricks for a competition routine. Do you ever have this issue?

  6. Great article. I always find it tough to balance my strength training with practicing routines for competition. I also tend to get obsessive about my routines, and sometimes will put aside learning new moves in favor of practicing tricks for a competition routine. Do you ever have this issue?

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